CARTAGENA

Colonial charm.

Cartagena travel guide

Off the coast of Cartagena are a collection of 27 Caribbean islands named the Rosario Islands, some are uninhibited, some are owned by private hotels.

Colombia is on Colombia Standard Time. It’s GMT -5 hours, meaning that it’s 1 hour ahead of New York and 6 hours ahead of London. Without calculating for daylight savings.

US Citizens will need: 

  • A passport with validity of at least six months upon entry. 
  • All U.S. citizens who do not also hold Colombian citizenship must present a valid U.S. passport to enter and leave Colombia. 
  • U.S. citizens do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less. 

Visa not required: 

Germany, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Bhutan, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Korea (Republic of), Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, United States of America, Estonia, Fiji, Philippines, Finland, France, Georgia, Grenada, Greece , Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Iceland, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro , Norway, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Dominican Republic, Romania, Russia (Federation of), San Cristobal and Snow, Samoa, San Marin or, Saint Lucia, Holy See, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Holders of passports from Hong Kong , SARG China, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Taiwan-China.

Visa Required: 

Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Benin, Belarus, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau , Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lesotho, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, Thailand, Tanzania, Tajikistan, East Timor, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

For more detailed info, check out Colombia Travel

Landing in Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG), you’ll be situated 3. 7 miles from Cartagena city center. Here are a few ways to get into the city:

Yellow Taxi: Best Option

  • Yellow taxis in Cartagena have fixed fares so you will be told the cost before you drive. 
  • Depending on where you go in Cartagena the fare can be as much as 20,000 ($6.00 USD). 

Private Car:

  • Private drivers are a popular option to take from the airport. The drive takes around 20 minutes depending on traffic and where you are headed. 
  • The price for the private car service starts at around $20.00 USD.

There is no metro currently in place in Cartagena. Here are a few things you should know about the other ways of getting around in Cartagena. 

  • Metrobus: You will need a TransCaribe chip card ($3,000 Pesos) and a single ride cost $2,300 pesos.
  • Yellow Taxi – Taxi scams are less common here since taxis in Cartagena have fixed fares.

Colombia requires a few safety precautions to have a safe and enjoyable visit. Theft and scams are common in the country so it’s important to be vigilant and wary of your surroundings.

The emergency number in Colombia is 123.

Safety tips:
Don’t leave valuable possessions in your back pockets.
Don’t bring valuables with you.
Be vigilant in bustling, crowded places.
Avoid going anywhere remote alone.

Safety Tips for the Night-Owls:
Try to avoid taxis at night as taxi scams are quite common.
Travel in groups- especially if you are a solo female traveler.

Countries the U.S. government says not to travel to in Colombia: Arauca, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño and Norte de Santander Departments

The U.S. State Department has safety guidelines for most countries, if you would like their information click on the link: U.S. Gov Travel

Colombian climate is warm and tropical on the coast and in the north. However, there is a rainy season from May to November. The temperature varies little throughout the year due to Colombia’s proximity to the equator.

  • December, January, February (Winter): BEST TIME TO VISIT. 
  • March, April, May (Spring): Dry and warm. 
  • June, July, August (Summer): Warm and rainy. 
  • September, October, November (Autumn): Warm and end of the rainy season.

Spanish is the official language of Colombia. It is spoken by more than 99.2% of Colombians. However, it is important to note that the Spanish spoken in Colombia varies slightly from the Spanish in Spain and other-Spanish speaking countries. Other Spanish dialects are also spoken in certain regions of the country and English is considered an official language in some parts of Colombia.

Here’s a few basic words and phrases:

Hello: Hola

Thank you: Gracias

You’re welcome: De nada

Excuse me: Perdóneme

I’m sorry: Lo siento

Please: Por favor

Good morning: Buenos días

Goodnight: Buenas noches

My name is…: Me llamo…

Check, please: La cuenta por favor

I don’t understand: No entiendo

Do you speak English?: ¿Hablas inglés?

Where is…?: ¿Dónde está…?

Call the police: Llama la policía

Colombia has a rich history and culture and certain etiquette is looked upon favorably. These tips are helpful to avoid any misunderstandings with locals.

Social settings:

  • Family is considered the most important thing in Colombian society.
  • Position and age are important in terms of respect.
  • Always refer to people by their title and surname.
  • When going to a Colombian’s home it is nice to bring wine, chocolate, or flowers.

Wine and Dine:

  • Wait to be seated by the host.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table.
  • Do not use a toothpick at the table.
  • It is polite to try everything the host offers.

Colombia’s unit of currency is the Colombian Peso (COP$). Approximately COP$ 3190.51 equates to USD $1.

Exchanging money is best done at the airports in Colombia. Most banks don’t exchange money unless it is an exchange money. It is recommended to not exchange money at ATMs on the streets.

Tipping! Restaurants typically include a service charge so tipping isn’t necessary. Always check the bill and you can always tip more for excellent service!

Colombia’s electricity outlets are compatible with U.S. type plugs. Electricity in Colombia run at 110 volts. Tourists from the US will therefore not be required to bring transformers. The outlets contain two vertical slots.

Your converter may look like this if it is the three prong version- however in some places it doesn’t include the top prong:

Drinking water straight from the faucet is safe to do in major Colombian cities like Bogota, Cartagena, Cali, Medellin. But in other cities it would be safest to buy bottled water.

Here’s how to get a SIM card in Colombia:

  • Claro is the recommended network as it has the most extensive network in Colombia.
  • Unfortunately, the airports in Colombia do not carry SIM cards you have to purchase them at Oxxo which is a convenience store all over Colombia.
  • SIM Cards cost around $3,000 COP ($ 0.94 USD). Depending on the amount of MB you want certain plans for the SIM card cost more than others.

There is Uber in Cartagena. Taxis are also available and is a great way to get around.

Colombia is one of the most advanced Latin American countries when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. Consensual homosexual activity was decriminalized in 1981- making it an advanced country when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights legislation.

However, laws are one thing. Unfortunately, discrimination and harassment is still quite commonplace in Colombia. A record 109 LGBTQ+ people were murdered in 2017. For these reasons displays of affection are safer within private venues rather than public.

While recycling isn’t common in Colombia they are making strides to become more environmentally conscious. The Colombian Government’s most recent venture has been in renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power. 

Must See Highlights for Eco-Travelers:

  • Paramillo del Quindio- three day trek through jungles, rivers and hills. 
  • Nevado del Ruiz a volcano on the border of the departments of Caldas and Tolima in Colombia. 
  • Go bird-watching in the Cauca Valley.

SHOP ETHICALLY:

packing list

FOR THE PLANNERS:

Cartagena has two vastly different neighborhoods: the super modern Bocagrande and the Old Walled city.

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